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Thursday 24 September 2020
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Emergency Paid Sick Leave In New York: How It Is Affecting Residents?

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COVID-19 has affected the way that we approach so many aspects of life. For one thing, the illness has economically distressed countless Americans. Due to the temporary closure of non-essential businesses and the following restrictions placed upon them after states began to re-open, many people are left without their jobs, or with reduced hours or pay. The principal issue, of course, remains the fact that the virus is potentially debilitating or even life-threatening. For that matter, even those who recover from COVID-19 may be left with permanent internal damage that leaves them disabled for life. Those who remain able to work now are understandably concerned about what will happen if they do become sick, or if a family member becomes ill and needs their help. This issue is particularly pronounced in light of the fact that a great portion of households that once relied on multiple paychecks are now cut down to one paycheck. Therefore, many Americans, and particularly many within New York state, which has been particularly affected by the virus, are wondering about their rights regarding short-term disability and paid family leave.

There remains much confusion about what short-term disability and paid family leave even mean. This varies from state to state, which is why it’s important for New York state residents to specifically research New York’s laws. COVID-19 has only added an additional variable to the issue; though Americans certainly want to work and maintain their non-essential jobs, the fact is that there needs to be a “cushion” available that will allow them to take time off while they or their family members are suffering from COVID-19. Otherwise, they will return to work when it is unsafe and spread the virus further.

What Is Short-Term Disability?

Before looking into what New York state has done to accommodate short-term disability and paid family leave in light of COVID-19, it’s important to understand what the terms mean in the first place. Short-term disability is specifically a type of insurance benefit. It is meant to supply compensation or income replacement to people who are displaced from their positions due to non-job-related illnesses or injuries. As the title implies, those that receive short-term disability are only rendered unable to work for a limited period of time. In contrast, when an illness or injury occurs on the job or due to the job, it will be covered by workers’ compensation. When people receive temporary disability benefits, they are entitled to two-thirds of their average weekly earnings.

What Is Paid Family Leave?

What is paid family leave, and how does it compare to short-term disability? Paid family leave is a benefit extended to those who have sick family members that need to be cared for. It does not provide job protection, but it does give people benefits similar to those given during short-term disability, as they’re meant to essentially replace income on a temporary basis.

Does New York State Offer Special Benefits In Light Of COVID-19?

COVID-19 has obviously changed the conditions under which people are seeking benefits; namely in that more people need benefits due to the widespread nature of the virus and the cautions that people are being told to follow in order to prevent its spread. The COVID-19 short term disability benefits in New York state are meant to assist those who have been forced to stay home and quarantine due to the fact that they or their loved ones have become ill, or because they or their loved ones have been exposed to the virus. While the actual benefit structure of the program depends on the size and annual net income of the employer, there are other benefits that the recipient can take advantage of as well. These include the fact that the recipients have job protection during their specified quarantine period in the form of job restoration and non-retaliation provisions. This is specifically referred to as New York’s Emergency COVID-19 Paid Sick Leave, and it is meant to cover not only those who are being quarantined due to their own illness but also those who need to care for sick or otherwise quarantined family members; specifically, their minor, dependent children. Now, a number of children are also under quarantine orders or will be under quarantine orders for a certain period of time due to concerns about them returning to school. School means that children may be more easily exposed to the virus, which is why it’s considered important that their parents are able to care for them.

How Does One Determine That They Qualify For Paid Sick Leave?

It’s important for Americans to monitor their health during the pandemic; while everyone should visit the doctor at least once a year, it’s even more important now to visit your doctor when you feel it is necessary to ensure that you have a record of whether or not you have tested positive for COVID-19. While general stay at home orders and a diagnosis do not qualify a person for Emergency Paid Sick Leave, if a person is unable to work from home while under an Order of Mandatory or Precautionary Quarantine, they could qualify for Emergency Paid Sick Leave. With that being said, that individual would have to file for these benefits and receive approval. They would not automatically be applied. If an individual has been laid off due to the COVID-19 pandemic, rather than filing for these benefits, they would file for unemployment benefits.

Clearly, there are restrictions to this Paid Sick Leave, and with good reason. There are other benefits, like unemployment benefits, that can cover those who are in need of help for other reasons. But in cases wherein people have been given orders of quarantine, rather than stay at home orders, this Paid Sick Leave can ease the financial burden felt throughout households across America. New Yorkers simply need to be aware of whether or not they qualify for it.